You might be drawn to medicine careers if you are people-oriented and you love science. You might want to be a doctor because the pay is great and it is a prestigious career. The sad reality is that there many people loving, science loving teens out there and most of them don’t get to be doctors. What does it take? What can you do if you don’t have what it takes but you wish you did?
In the Western Cape there are two universities that offer medicine. They are the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch. There are five other universities offering medicine throughout South Africa. Universities each have different entrance requirements. Competition for places is intense. All universities have their own way of calculating your entrance marks based on your matric results overall as well as per subject requirements, depending on your course. You must also write your National Benchmark Test (NBT).
University of Cape Town (UCT)
UCT allocate admission points out of 1000. 600 points are for your 6 matric subjects. Life Orientation does not count. 300 points are for your NBT results. 100 points if for your letter of motivation. You must have at least 60% for English, Maths and Physics. Your average must be at least 75%. You have a guaranteed offer if your total points are higher than 880. Places may be offered to applicants with lower total points if they are disadvantaged currently or historically. All applicants must still meet the minimum subject requirements. All applicants must have the minimum average. In reality, most applicants will have averages in the range of 80-90%. UCT is generally harder to get into than Stellenbosch.
At UCT a small number of graduates who have completed either an approved undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the life sciences or natural sciences may be admitted direct to the second year of the MBChB degree. They must have
(a) qualified for a place in first year MBChB
(b) completed approved courses in Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biology at tertiary level;
(c) passed such courses with at least 60% and at first attempt;
(d) completed basic courses in Afrikaans and Xhosa (or done such subjects at school-leaving level);
(e) attended a two-week pre-registration course and obtained at least 60% in an assessment at the end of that course.
Stellenbosch allocates admission points out of 100. School academics counts for 45%, NBTs for 30% and non-academic achievements for 25%. You must have a minimum aggregate of at least 70%. Your Maths, Physics and Life Science must be at least 50%. In reality, most applicants will have averages in the range of 75-85%.
Stellenbosch also offers the possibility of transferring from a degree in life sciences or natural sciences at the end of first year. The correct first year subjects must be taken. Only 35 places are offered and you must compete for a space. You are likely to be offered a place if your first year average is at least 85%, based on 2016 admission scores.
Alternatively you can gain apply to WITS for third year medicine if you have a science degree with specific subjects. This is called the Graduate Entry Medical Program.
Other Medicine Careers
What are your options if you don’t have the marks likely to lead to an offer in medicine? Fortunately there are MANY OTHER GOOD options for health study and medicine careers with lower academic requirements and even some that don’t require physics and accept maths literacy.
At UCT, the department of health offers degrees in physiotherapy (slightly easier to get into than medicine), occupational therapy and audiology (much easier to get into than medicine). You can also do a Bachelor of Science in Human Physiology. With Physiology you won’t be working hands on treating people but you could be the brains behind the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. A science degree at UCT requires a minimum aggregate of 70% with probably offers at 77%.
Stellenbosch similarly has other health options with Physiotherapy again slightly easier than medicine to get into and Dietetics, Occupational therapy and Speech therapy being much easier. Note also, you don’t need to have physics for Occupational or Speech therapy. Stellenbosch also offers the option of a Bachelor of Science in Human Physiology.
With an average of 60-70% (code 5) you can consider Dentistry or Pharmacy at the University of Western Cape (UWC).
If you are more of a 50-60% (code 4) person then it is not all over for you! UWC Department of Community and Health Sciences has many options in the health field that are easier to access including Dietetics, Occupational therapy, Physiotherapy, Psychology, Social work, Sport science and Oral health with maths lit accepted for many courses (although the marks need to be higher than for pure maths) and physical science not required for all courses. To see more about your options click here.
For the next range of options, with marks ranging from 40-59%, codes 3 & 4, you can look at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, department of Health and Wellness Science. On offer here is Dental, Dental assisting, Emergency Medical, Nursing, Optical Dispensing, Radiography and Somatology (skin care). All courses require Life Science and many also require Maths and Physical Science. CPUT also offer Biotechnology- harnessing cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet. To see more about your options at CPUT click here.